Articles on Australian Constitution

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Australians will vote on constitutional recognition for local government in September - but what are the reasons behind the referendum? AAP/Sophie Marr

Explainer: why are we having a referendum on local government?

The federal government has announced that Australians will be voting in a referendum on September 14 - federal election day - to decide whether local government should be recognised in the Australian Constitution…
Governor-General Quentin Bryce’s term ends after the election. Is it in the purview of the Gillard government to announce her replacement? AAP/Lukas Coch

Taking care of the caretaker conventions

Could the Gillard government appoint a successor to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, to take up office in March 2014 when Bryce’s appointment expires? The press has reported that opposition leader…
Changes to Murray Darling policy are a big win for SA, but NSW and Victoria aren’t impressed. Feral Arts

Murray-Darling: why Australia needs intergovernmental cooperation

On Friday, the Prime Minister announced that the Commonwealth will spend $1.7 billion to increase water return to the Murray-Darling River by a further 450 gigalitres. The announcement is a big win for…
Local Government minister Simon Crean is set to dump a promised referendum of constitutional recognition for councils. AAP/Alan Porrit

Constitutional recognition for councils: a better governed Australia

Few oppose constitutional recognition of local government as a concept. Indeed, while the current debate concerns recognition in the federal constitution, local government has been readily accepted in…
Why did the government drop the ball on constitutional recognition? AAP/David Crosling

Failure to launch: what happened to Indigenous recognition?

The Gillard government has finally confirmed it will not be asking Australians to vote in a referendum for the constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples in this term of parliament. Although agreeing…
The final pieces of the historical puzzle around the 1975 Whitlam dismissal are not as sensational as they first seem. Image courtesy of National Archives of Australia. NAA: A6180, 13/11/75/33

Mason’s role in the 1975 dismissal ‘unprecedented’? Hardly …

Much hyperbole has been generated by the recent revelations concerning Sir Anthony Mason’s involvement in the 1975 dismissal, but for the most part it shows ignorance of the past. Earlier this week, The…
It’s not time to break out the confetti yet; Tasmania faces legal hurdles before it can allow same-sex marriage. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Explainer: can Tasmania legalise same-sex marriage?

Does the Tasmanian Parliament have the power to pass a law permitting same-sex marriage? The short answer is yes. But the more difficult question is whether that law will be effective or whether it will…
The military court system in Australia has gone through many ups and downs with more to come. AAP Image/Australian Department of Defence

The new Australian Military Court: a fair go for defence force personnel?

Last week, the Commonwealth Attorney-General Nicola Roxon introduced a bill establishing the Australian Military Court as a constitutional court. If the bill passes, it will bring Australia into line with…
If Australia is to set an example in the region, we need to clean up our constitution and abolish the race powers act. AAP/Courtesy of Traditional Owners and Rio Tinto Alcan/Peter Eve

Australia will need a strong constitution for the Asian Century

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Here, Dr Matt Harvey argues that…
The High Court decision against Palm Island rioter, Lex Wotton highlights concerns about how little our constitution does to protect us. AAP Image/Ian Hitchcock

Silencing Lex Wotton: Palm Island riot decision a blow for freedom of speech

When a prisoner has served their time, it’s difficult to understand why they would be stopped from engaging in public debate or communicating with the media. But a new precedent has been set by the High…
It’s essential that we get it right when it comes to changing our constitution to recognise Aboriginal Australians. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

Indigenous recognition: we can’t afford to water down constitutional reform

Earlier this year, the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians gave its final recommendations to the government. Recognition would acknowledge the unique place of Aboriginal…
The Treaty of Waitangi reminds us that indigenous people must be treated honourably before the law. Sids1

A matter of trust – what we can learn from the Treaty of Waitangi

Much is made of the Treaty of Waitangi as the vehicle for the recognition of Maori in New Zealand’s legal system. Australia lacks a treaty, the argument goes, and therefore is constitutionally disabled…
We should take a closer look at the history of the Constitution before reforming it. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

Indigenous recognition and the Section 25 quandary

The one recommendation of the Expert Panel on Indigenous Constitutional Recognition that everyone appears to support is the repeal of section 25 of the Constitution. Section 25 says that if a State law…
Newly appointed Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon may be surprised to find the bill of rights she doesn’t want is already in place. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Roxon got it right: we don’t need a bill of rights because we’ve already got one

The new Commonwealth Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon has said that in her new role she would not push for a bill of rights to be included in the constitution. But many would be surprised to learn she doesn’t…
It’s time to recognise the first Australians in our constitution. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

It’s time to recognise Indigenous Australia in our constitution

Last week, the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples concluded its deliberations on reform proposals. While we wait on the release of their final report…
It’s time to look seriously at changing our constitution. An apology is not enough. AAP/Dave Hunt

Indigenous Australians the key to a strong Constitution

There is unfinished business in Australia, and it’s time to start a serious conversation about resolving it. We need to talk about the planned referendum on Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution…

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